Greetings, readers! My name is Sareeta Domingo, and I’m an author and fiction editor. It’s my great pleasure to be bringing you a Book of the Week, each week here on Morning Mari.
This will, however, be my last Book of the Week on Worldwide FM for a while, as the Morning Mari show will be taking a little break soon. But my recommendation this week is a story that really celebrates the importance of music in the incredible way this radio station does—so my Book of the Week this week is a novel published only a few weeks ago, Dawnie Walton’s fantastic The Final Revival of Opal and Nev.
The book is entirely fictional, but that is often really quite hard to believe, which is a testament to the skill of this debut author. It follows the story of the titular musical duo, Opal and Nev, and it’s written in the style of an oral history, featuring talking-head style interviews with several of the major players in Opal and Nev’s journey from the late sixties and early seventies to the present day. Nev Charles is a British singer songwriter, whose career initially picks up when he’s paired with an incredibly striking proto-punk goddess in the form of tall, dark, bald and beautiful African American singer Opal Jewel. However, in the course of this story documenting their rise to success, we learn of the Altamont-style gig that’s at the heart of a dark turn in Opal and Nev’s musical careers and personal lives.
Walton has pieced together this novel with an incredibly keen ear, presenting the narrative through snippets of interviews with the musicians and music industry people that were key to the story. But she’s made it even more engaging through the fact that the character of the journalist putting this book-within-a-book together has a personal stake in Opal and Nev’s story. And using the real musical and socio-political climate of 1960s and 70s America as the novel’s backdrop, Walton has created characters who, while fictional, couldn’t feel more genuine as ciphers for the racial tensions of that era, and of today. She also writes with a clear understanding and deep love for music that will appeal to anyone who, like me, is enamoured of an amazing story and of incredible music.
It’s a novel that’s so well put together and evocative that you might find yourself futilely digging in the stacks to find Opal and Nev’s records. Instead, hopefully you’ll be drawn to seek out the other pioneering figures of that era of music, especially from Black female rock stars like Betty Davis and Nona Hendryx. As much as anything, the book is really a love story to those rock goddesses. And that is why the electrifying The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton is my Book of the Week this week.